Cold tolerance of rice in the Southern Cone
About 1.4 million hectares of rice are cultivated in the Southern Cone of Latin America and are potentially affected by low temperatures. In Rio Grande do Sul, more than a million ha are planted and 60% of the total Brazilian production is produced (7 million tons). Approximately 200,000 ha are planted in Uruguay (1.4 million tons) and a similar area in Argentina (1.2 million tons). The region requires tolerant varieties to low temperatures, since it is one of the most limiting production factors.
Climate change can increase climate variability and extreme events, affecting rice. The selection assisted by molecular markers (SAM), would allow a greater efficiency in the selection and would substantially reduce the time to obtain materials that combine performance, quality, and tolerance to cold. The Hokkaido National Agricultural Research Center (NARCH) is one of the most advanced centers in the world for research on cold tolerance of rice and has developed a selection procedure supported by specific molecular markers.
The main objective of the project was to validate and incorporate in the FLAR and in the improvement programs of the interested partners, the SAM processes developed in Japan,
The project had the following components: 1. Introduction of marker-assisted selection and methodologies for evaluating cold tolerance in breeding programs; 2. Training of researchers of the breeding programs in those methodologies and their application to plant breeding. 3. Strengthening of alliances between regional institutions with advanced research centers.
The technological solution
Breeding programs in the region select for cold tolerance in different phenological stages. Generally, they do so by exposing the germplasm to natural conditions, a methodology that works, but is expensive and slow. The incorporation of molecular marker-assisted selection (SAM), implemented by the project, allowed for greater efficiency in cold tolerance selection. This can substantially reduce the time required to obtain genetic materials that combine performance, quality and cold tolerance.
Interagency interaction strengthened national plant breeding programs and there were gains in learning more efficient techniques for both genotyping and phenotyping.
- 77 lines from Uruguay and 50 genotypes from the CIAT-FLAR genebank were characterized by cold tolerance in the seedling and reproductive stages.
- 28 genotypes were identified that produced at least half of what was produced by the cold-tolerant parent. In total, 66 genotypes were equal to or greater than the susceptible parent.
- Four markers were identified that allow selection for cold tolerance in the flowering stage.
- The project objective of implementing marker-assisted selection in the breeding process for cold tolerance in rice was fully achieved.
- 15 genotypes from Chile and Uruguay were identified that outperformed tolerant controls in the reproductive stage.
- The evaluation capacity in the reproductive stage was increased by 16%.
- With backcrossing it was possible to increase the cold tolerance of the IRGA 424 variety.
- The project produced twelve publications and presentations at conferences, five researchers were trained in Japan, and three visits to exchange experiences were made.
The direct beneficiaries were the numerous researchers who participated in the project, the five researchers trained in the new techniques and methodologies, and in general the national improvement programs that incorporated new technical, infrastructure and equipment capabilities. Also, the hundreds of researchers and professionals who participated in international meetings and had access to the results of the project.
The impact of the project will be seen in the long term, through improving and accelerating the capacity of breeding programs to release high-yielding, cold-tolerant varieties. These will be necessary for current production areas, as well as for the expanding cultivation areas in the southern part of the continent. This will benefit rice production in the participating countries as well as contribute to world food security, given the fact that they are net exporters.
Sustainable Development Goals
- International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) - Colombia
- FLAR - Colombia
- Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria (INIA) - Uruguay
- Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) - Argentina
- IRGA - Brasil